Earlier this year, AST SpaceMobile, in collaboration with AT&T, achieved a significant breakthrough in satellite-based cellular communication by connecting a standard Samsung Galaxy S22 to a low-Earth orbit satellite and completing a two-way voice call.
Recently, AST conducted a series of tests in Hawaii, and their engineers witnessed download speeds of 10 Mbps from the company’s BlueWalker 3 satellite to unmodified phones on the ground. This achievement of achieving double-digit download speeds during satellite-to-smartphone testing brings us closer to the goal of ensuring seamless connectivity.
Chris Sambar, AT&T’s network head, expressed optimism, stating, “This development takes us one step closer to ensuring people across the United States will be able to stay connected no matter where they are.”
In the next phase of their project, AST aims to establish a connection between a phone and the BW3 satellite using a 5G signal. The prototype satellite was launched into low-Earth orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in September.
BW3 boasts the largest antenna among commercial satellites, spanning 693 square feet. However, its significant size and brightness have posed challenges for astronomers conducting their research in the night sky.
AT&T is among a select group of US carriers exploring satellite-based solutions to extend connectivity to underserved rural communities. In 2021, Verizon partnered with Amazon to leverage the Project Kuiper satellite network for wireless access.
Similarly, T-Mobile has announced a collaboration with SpaceX to conduct tests with devices compatible with the Starlink satellite system. Like AT&T, T-Mobile has expressed that existing phones should be compatible with their satellite services.